Breath, Eyes, Memory Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Breath, Eyes, Memory

Sophie moves from her native Haiti to live with her traumatized mother and must overcome these fears as they threaten to pass on to her. Sophie is a young girl living in Haiti with her aunt and grandmother. When she receives a plane ticket in the mail from her mother Martine, she flies to New York to live with her. The two live in a slummy neighborhood but are supported by her mother's various jobs and through support of her Haitian lawyer boyfriend Marc. Martine experiences frequent nightmares which Sophie witnesses in the night. Martine encourages the girl to study hard, saying this is the only future for her. Sophie obeys and grows into an excellent student, with little time for anything else. Once, when following her mother to a job, Martine explains that as a girl, her mother used to check that her hymen was intact to ensure her virginity. She reveals that, at 16, she was raped and conceived Sophie. This trauma is the source of her nightmares which continue unabated. By Sophie's senior year in college, Martine has saved enough for the two to move out of the ghetto and into a nicer neighborhood near Marc's house. Sophie becomes attached to a young musician boy named Joseph who lives next door. One night when she returns late from being with Joseph, Martine hysterically checks Sophia's hymen just as her mother did to her. These invasions continue until Joseph agrees to marry Sophia and the two elope to Rhode Island.
Click here to see the rest of this review

An slightly older Sophia arrives in Haiti for reasons yet unknown to the reader. She meets old friends and her aunt and grandmother and introduces them to her new daughter Brigitte. Sophia gradually reveals that she has a horrible fear of sex, possibly stemming from her mother's invasive virginity tests. She loves Joseph but cannot be intimate with him without having strong adverse reactions. The trip to Haiti is stressful and the young woman eventually returns to her mother's house in New York. She finds Martine pregnant by Marc and soon returns to her husband in Rhode Island. Martine calls to tell Sophia that her nightmares are getting worse but that she would like to invite she, Joseph, and the baby to stay with her and Marc. After the visit, Martine calls again to tell Sophia that her unborn baby has begun speaking to her in the voice of her rapist. Sophia enrolls herself in a sex therapy class and when she gets home the next day Marc calls with the news that Martine has committed suicide by stabbing herself over and over in the belly. Sophia and Joseph return to Haiti where her mother's funeral is held.
Best part of story, including ending: It was a story of bad feelings and traumatic vibes. It made for uncomfortable reading that I can't say I enjoyed.

Best scene in story: I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of Sophia's childhood in Haiti, particularly her grandmother's house.

Opinion about the main character: I didn't like that Sophia seemed especially prone to feeling bad. You can't blame her, I guess, but it's still not fun company.

The review of this Book prepared by Andrew Black a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Breath, Eyes, Memory

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   very sensitive (sigh) Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Family, struggle with    -   Yes Struggle with:    -   Mother (or standin) Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   rape Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Hispanic/Latinic


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   4 () Island?    -   Yes Island:    -   Caribbean Islands City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   touching of anatomy    -   impregnation/reproduction    -   actual description of hetero sex    -   Vagia talk!    -   Weiner talk!    -   rape/molest Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Breath, Eyes, Memory

Edwidge Danticat Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian